Unless you yourself are behind bars, you’ve likely binge watched (or at least heard about) the Netflix original documentary series Making and Murderer. It’s become one of the most buzzed about shows the streaming platform has released in recent months.

Jumpshot recently published an infographic comparing viewership trends of the leading Netflix Originals to those on HBO GO, and we found that the streaming behavior of Making a Murderer’s viewers did not follow the general trend. While the viewership of new Netflix originals tends to spike within the first three days after a show is released (with at least double the daily average viewers compared to the first month’s average) viewers took weeks to focus their attention on this unique documentary series.

This difference in user behavior intrigued us, so we decided to dig deeper into the data. We analyzed Making a Murderer’s viewership in the two months following its December 18, 2015 release with the goal of identifying the factors contributing  to the growing popularity of this controversial series. Read on for our data-driven findings.

Swimming up Stream

We analyzed the viewership of the three leading new Netflix originals: Making a Murderer, Narcos and Master of None. By comparing each show’s viewership trends within the first eight weeks of releasing their first season, we were able to pinpoint the differences in viewer behavior. While both Narcos and Master of None fall in line with Netflix original’s general viewership trends – with the largest share of viewership in the initial week of release – Making a Murderer’s biggest share of viewership only occurred on the third and fourth weeks of release. While the viewer base of Narcos and Master of None both declined by 55 percent between the first week and third week of release, Making a Murderer’s viewer base doubled  in that same time frame.  

New Netflix originals viewership trends by Jumpshot

Why is Making a Murderer’s viewership so different than the general trend? One might argue that this show’s unique content is the cause for the slower viewer adoption rate, but that doesn’t explain the increase in viewership and popularity displayed. Or does it? This documentary has caused controversy amongst viewers and journalists alike, creating massive online buzz and engagement.

Controversy in the Press

Anyone that has watched Making a Murderer has an opinion. Whether you believe that the evidence was planted or not, the controversy has had a significant impact on online viewership.  

In its third week, the show saw a 63 percent increase in viewership from the week prior. During this time, articles detailing the series and the case of Steve Avery and Brendan Dassey flooded the news. Here are a couple of examples of the media coverage this show received:

  • January 5, 2016: Making a Murderer’s filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, shared the news that an original juror on the Avery murder case told them he thought Avery was framed on Today.
  • January 5, 2016t: CNN covers two petitions requesting a presidential pardon which have received over 600,000 signatures to date.
  • January 7, 2016: The Associated Press publishes a piece on one of the jurors defending their guilty verdict. This also coincided with the start of Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, which Netflix kicked off.

The Twitter Conversation

As for user generated buzz, we took a look at the show’s social channels to understand where the conversations are taking place. We quickly found that the viewers and filmmakers alike chose to engage on Twitter. In fact, Making a Murderer greatly outranks the two other recent Netflix Originals with more than double the amount of followers Narcos has and nearly eight times those of Master of None.

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Let’s dig further into the data to see how people discovered these Twitter conversations. Using the Jumsphot Keywords Research solution, we looked at search trends of the Making a Murderer Twitter profile and discovered that the search traffic was in line with the growth in viewership: traffic peaked on January 6, 2016. It’s interesting to note that the directors of the series hosted a Twitter Q&A on January 20, 2016, which resulted in a 50 percent week-over-week increase in search traffic to the show’s Twitter page.

Search Traffic to Making a Murderer Twitter Profile

Bottom line:  Media coverage and social discussions can have a significant impact on visibility, as highlighted by the recent growth in popularity of Making a Murderer.  Whether it’s online streaming or product reviews, having people discuss your business, product or service is imperative to success. While most businesses are not as controversial as this show, establishing a connection and engaging in conversation are still key to customer adaption, engagement and loyalty in the always-connected digital world we live in.